By the end of the first group only 10 combinations had jumped clear around Spanish designer Santiago Varela’s track, two of which picked up one time-penalty. A big oxer at fence three leading to a treble combination has proven influential, while riders note the final line consisting of of a vertical leading to a double, then down to the last, is providing a challenge for many.
Columbian rider Roberto Tafur Teran and Dez’ Ooktooff had eight jumping faults and one time-penalty.
“The course is fantastic,” he said, after his round. “Santiago is a fantastic designer. He tests you from number one, every line has a little question.
“He plays with the corners or the angles, and I think he’s brilliant. The atmosphere is good enough without the public, it’s quite impressive.”
Robertso said the most challenging part of the course is the early combination at fence four, the Tanabata Festival. Part A and B are big verticals, and part C is an oxer.
“After number three it’s a little challenging because it doesn’t walk as short as it rides,” he said. “The last line was quite difficult as well. If you’re not spot on in every job you will have it down.”
Ireland’s Darragh Kenny, who produced a clear on Cartello, said the course “takes some jumping”.
“The line to the water (fence eight) I kind of messed up a little bit. You can do six or seven afterwards, there’s lots of different options,” he said.
“The last line is very tough; a big wall, long four strides to a big oxer, then short to a vertical and really short to the last jump – it’s going to take a lot of jumping.”
Egypt’s Mouda Zeyada and Galanthos Shk, who rode a clear jumping round and had one time-penalty, agreed that the final line is challenging.
“With the wall they spook a little bit and then you have to ride for the four and the combination is very short,” he said.
French rider Matthieu Billot and Quel Filou 13 had one rail and picked up three time-penalties.
“I was disappointed. The horse was a little bit nervous because of the lights,” he said, adding the sumo wrestler fence at 10 also caused some issues.
“He didn’t want to turn so we had a little bit of a problem there,” he said.
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